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Field of Study: Veterinary Medicine

Graduate admissions

Admission to graduate programs is very competitive. You need at least three years of college level courses in the physical and natural sciences, social sciences, and statistics. You also need good grades and good test scores. In addition, most veterinary medicine schools require veterinary experience. You can work or volunteer for local animal shelters and veterinary clinics. You can also join 4-H or similar organizations.

Additional requirements at some schools include:

  • Graduate Record Exams (GRE) General and Biology
  • Undergraduate degree in biology, animal science, chemistry, or zoology
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Professional resume
  • Personal interview

Some schools require the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT) or Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) in place of the GRE.


Typical course work

Usually the professional veterinary medicine program is divided into two phases. The first emphasizes preclinical sciences, including:

  • Anatomy
  • Animal Handling
  • Applied Nutrition
  • Genetics
  • Hematology
  • Immunology
  • Introduction to Surgery
  • Large Animal Medicine
  • Microbiology
  • Neuroscience
  • Parasitology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology
  • Small Animal Medicine
  • Veterinary Ethics and Law

The second phase is clinical. Students work with directly with animals and their owners, under the supervision of professors and licensed veterinarians. Students typically concentrate on several topics during clinical rotations. These topics can include small and large animal internal medicine, cardiology, and oncology; large animal surgery; epidemiology, orthopedics, anesthesiology; and caring for exotic animals.

Graduate programs that lead to a master's or doctoral degree typically include:

  • Required courses
  • Clinical rotations and/or fellowship
  • Thesis (master's degree)
  • Preliminary exams (doctoral degree only)
  • Dissertation and dissertation defense (doctoral degree)